You’ve made the decision to visit Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea and have begun your research and planning, that’s fantastic, you’re going to love it! After doing some reading, you may think to yourself, “Wait, am I able to visit and enjoy the Parks without knowing Japanese? How difficult is it?” That’s an excellent question and is anxiety-inducing. I’ll help ease some of that anxiety.
The short answer is, yes and depends. I know that’s not ideal answers but I’ll go more in-depth to help make things clear. For the most part, you’ll have no issues visiting Tokyo Disney Resort knowing zero Japanese, but there are few things to be mindful of. Let’s go over those things, so you’re well-prepared when you visit.
Traveling to Japan Without Japanese
Before talking about Tokyo Disney Resort, I want to quickly talk about traveling through Japan without knowing Japanese. In general, you’ll be fine without knowing Japanese as you navigate the country. Locals are extremely friendly and customer oriented, this means most Japanese go to great lengths to help, even with a language barrier.
With the increase in tourism over the years, a lot of the tourist areas have ample English signage and information readily available. A lot of tourist attractions have fluent or even native English-speakers (not always the case, however). Even the trains within the major cities (including the bullet train) have English signage and announcements.
Once you leave the city centers, it’s hit-or-miss if there’s any English around, so be aware of that. As a rule of thumb, knowing a few basic phrases and having a pocketbook with Japanese phrases is helpful. With that said, a lot of locals will do their best to speak English with you, if they know any.
Read more about traveling to Japan without knowing Japanese. Also, don’t forget to read our list of best things to do in Tokyo and our practical Japan tips. Now, let’s talk about English at Tokyo Disney Resort.
English-Speaking Cast Members
For the most part, English among front-line Cast Members varies greatly. You’ll meet some that speak nearly fluent English while others may know a few pleasantries and everything in between. With that said, there are almost always Cast Members who speak some level of English in these positions:
- Hotel Check-in
- Park Ticket Booths
- Ticket Center (Ikspiari)
Chances are Cast Members may not know much English at the restaurants, both counter and table service. No need to worry though, all menus are in English. A lot of the food names are the same in English as they are in Japanese. That means if you simply say “cheeseburger” that’s understood. When all else fails, you’re able to point at the menu.
If you have allergies, that’s a bit tougher. My best advice is to print out these allergy Japanese cards for dining. As a general rule in Japan (not just Tokyo Disney Resort), you aren’t able to customise meals as you can in many other Western countries. If you’re looking for vegetarian or vegan options, see our lists for Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea.
Signage at Tokyo Disney Resort
You’ll be happy to know that any important signage at the Resort is in English (toilets, monorail stations, menu, etc). You’ll have zero issues navigating the Parks, the monorail, or even the train system to get to Maihama Station. Grab yourself an English Park Map (along with a Japanese Today Guide), and you’ll find your way through the Parks without issue.
Many announcements over the speaker system throughout the Resort are in Japanese and English (sometimes Mandarin too). One thing to note is most receipts are only in Japanese (restaurants and stores).
English in Attractions & Entertainment
The most noticeable aspect during your visit is there’s little to no English in dialogue for attractions and entertainment. Almost everything is in Japanese. This includes characters speaking during parades and shows to dialogue in attractions.
Unless you speak Japanese, it’s tough to understand exactly what’s being said. However, the stories are usually simple enough you’re able to get an idea of what’s happening. It’s also quite fun to hear Mickey and other characters speak Japanese. Listening to “Compass of Your Heart” in Japanese from Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage is always a treat.
Does this take away from your experience? I don’t think so, it makes for fun memories of visiting a different country! It’s also fun to try to guess what’s being said by creating your own interpretation.
What happens if I need an English-speaker?
If you find yourself in a situation where you need an English-speaker (and hand motions don’t help), Cast Members will find someone who can help you. The best advice I can give is if you’re in a situation where the language barrier is an issue, it’s best to use simple short phrases with hand gestures. In most cases, that’ll help.
How difficult is it?
Long story short, not knowing Japanese shouldn’t deter you from visiting Tokyo Disney Resort. Besides the challenges we discussed above, you’ll still have a wonderful time without any Japanese ability.
With visiting any foreign country, it’s always an excellent idea to equip yourself with a few key phrases and pleasantries. That’s always appreciated by locals. It’s also fun trying to speak another language and lends itself to experiences you wouldn’t have elsewhere.
Here are a few resources to help you learn some Japanese to use:
- 50 Easy Japanese Words to Learn in One Day
- Basic Japanese Phrases to Know
- Japanese Phrases Useful for Dining
- Japanese Phrase Book
Are you planning a trip to Japan?
Take the anxiety out of planning a trip to Japan with our premium ebook travel guides on Tokyo Disney Resort & Universal Studios Japan. Our guides have everything you need to know from the best times to visit, what hotel to choose, what to do, what to eat, and tons more! With nearly 2000 copies sold, our premium guides have become an essential tool for Explorers!
Get all your discount tickets for Tokyo Disneyland, Robot Restaurant, Universal Studios Japan, and more through our tickets page (includes an exclusive discount code). For my personal recommendations on SIM cards, portable wi-fi devices, travel insurance, cheap flights, and hotel bookings, read our travel resources page.
Do you love exclusive and early access to content? Support us on Patreon as it helps us continue bringing you free and continuous content to help you plan your trip.